Multiplayer Online Battle Arena
Multiplayer Online Battle Arena
, or MOBA, is a relatively new game genre. It involves teams of players competing with each other, typically using the point-and-click interface of a Real Time Strategy
; but, unlike RTS games, players control only one Hero Unit
instead of a military-industrial complex.
The first MOBA game
was Aeon of Strife, a map for Starcraft
. It gained popularity and, when WarCraft III
with its amazing map editor came out, spawned a lot of similar maps
which were referred to as AoS style maps. Amongst others there were D-Day, various AoS's direct ports, and Defense Of The Ancients
, developed by Eul. One of its own spinoffs, DotA Allstars developed by Guinsoo, became the Trope Codifier
by virtue of its astounding popularity.
Every game in the genre has its own permutations, but the formula popularized by DotA goes like this: there are two teams with an equal number of players. Each team has a base. The point of the game is to destroy the enemy's base before he does the same to yours. Each base has static defenses, and helps players attack by sending out squads of Mooks
. Hero Units
, controlled by players, are far more powerful than any mook squad and gain Character Levels
. They kill the mooks (and each other) for Experience Points
and gold, the former to learn new abilities and the latter to buy items. Apart from this tug-o-war, there may or may not be any other activities to participate in, such as killing off neutral monsters. And as to the characters themselves, there tends to be Loads and Loads of them
, each with a unique set of skills, abilities and statistics.
Finding a Hero you're good at is a key step in development; learning how to work with and against whichever Heroes happen to be in play during this particular match is another. While Heroes may be One Man Armies
, they are not (or shouldn't be
) strong enough to carry the match single-handedly. Teamwork is essential
. Additionally, the Unstable Equilibrium
is weighted heavily towards early-game mistakes. A single Leeroy Jenkins
or Ineffectual Loner
can not only doom your team, he can do so within the first five minutes. As a result, the player base of a MOBA game typically Suffers Newbies Poorly
, and treat the game as varying levels of Serious Business
, with all the hostile corollaries
Games in this genre:
- AirMech (Also a Real Time Strategy in the vein of Herzog Zwei.)
- Bloodline Champions, which does not follow DotA's formula at all
- Clonk scenarios "Tower Attack" (focusing on the base and mook elements) and "Keepers" (with less Real Time Strategy elements and more action combat and RPG Elements; freely combinable skills depending on class instead of fixed skillsets).
- Defense Of The Ancients (Warcraft III Game Mod)
- Dota 2 (a sequel being developed by Valve Software)
- Blizzard All-stars, (a sequel being developed by, well, Blizzard. Originally called "Blizzard DotA", it was renamed after a lawsuit between Blizzard and Valve)
- Demigod (A particularly high-budget attempt at the genre, with incredible graphics and sound and a lot of creative new mechanics; sadly it failed to get off the ground and died in short order)
- Dungeon Defenders 2, a sequel to the original Dungeon Defenders which has both a Dota-like Competitive Mode, and a Cooperative Mode which is much closer to the original game.
- Fat Princess, a hybrid of the genre with top-down Action Game.
- Heroes of Newerth: Originally developed as a direct port of Dota All-stars to a new engine, since the Warcraft3 engine was woefully out of date, it has over the years grown to be different in many respects. Most notably the larger part of heroes developed directly by S2 Games but also several nuances have been changed that Valve would not dare touch for fear of upsetting fans of the original mod.
- Infinite Crisis: A MOBA being made set in the DC Universe, with the premise of numerous alternate universes colliding.
- League of Legends (developed by several of the team who worked on DotA Allstars (including Guinsoo) and currently rated as the single most-played PC game in the world)
- Lord of the Rings: Guardians Of Middle Earth
- Monday Night Combat, a hybrid of the genre with Third Person Shooter.
- Its sequel, Super Monday Night Combat, follows the formula more closely, but still blends it with a Third Person Shooter.
- Prime World (An upcoming game that seeks to integrate Facebook and the ability to play support with a Zuma-like mini-game if a player isn't that good with DotA-style games)
- Realm Of The Titans (Was supported by Aeria Games for about a year or two, support in the US has been dropped, but continues to be played in East Asia)
- Rise Of Immortals
List of tropes prominent in the genre
- Acceptable Targets: It's no secret that this genre is practically bred to cause emotional angst. However, nothing sets the playerbase off more than saying you are Brazilian or Russian. (But mostly Brazilian.)
- Or Pinoys and Chinese (From china) for South East Asian players.
- Also, extend the hate towards Russian's to any, even remotely slavic nationality. If you speak a slavic language in a game, you will be called a Russian and hated for it.
- Adaptation Displacement: DotA: Allstars is more popular and well-known than any of its predecessors. Very few people know about Aeon of Strife or Eul's DotA.
- Likewise, Guinsoo's tenure at the helm of Allstars is more historical compared to Ice Frog's tenure, due to Ice Frog maintaining Competitive Balance.
- Ascended Glitch: some of Warcraft III engine limits and glitches made it into metagame and are copied in other games. Notably, the concept of denying your own friendly creeps to "deny" XP and gold from the enemy.
- Can't Catch Up: Players intend to invoke this.
- Character Tiers
- Competitive Balance: you can have Physical Gods and Badass Normals in one setting, but they must be equal in power.
- Complacent Gaming Syndrome: Being a PvP game, par for the course.
- Detractor Nickname: Haters prefer calling the genre "Aeon Strife-Styled Fortress Assault Game Going On Two Sides", which is actually accurate but shortens to ASSFAGGOTS.
- Double Standard: The person on their team disconnects? They'll pause and wait for them to come back. When the person on your team disconnects? They'll force-unpause the game and use this as an advantage to come ahead.
- Dynamic Entry
- Entitled Bastard: A lot of people will constantly ask you to help them out, refusing to help you back, and do not expect a "Thank you" if you do save them.
- Excuse Plot: Some games just think "Pick these people, now go fight."
- Fake Difficulty: In the form of Guide Dang It. If you're new to the genre, then don't expect the in-game tutorials to help since they rarely explain a little more than what the controls are. They do not tell you details of the metagame that the players expect you to know if you wish to start up. And given the fact the average community is terrible, this can be very off-putting.
- Fan Dumb: The number of accusations about DOTA 2 having copied Lo L or Ho N is frightening. You'd think the 2, combined with the unfamiliar title, might've prompted them to do a touch of Google-Fu to see if they'd missed another 'copy'.
- Follow the Leader: However a couple games have decided to diversify the genre by adding different game modes....and have been criticized for not being a near carbon-copy of DotA, interestingly enough.
- Game Breaker
- Gameplay and Story Segregation
- GIFT: In the form of "Stop Having Fun" Guys, Serious Business Scrubs, Suffers Newbies Poorly, Unpleasable Fanbase, Small Name, Big Ego, Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy, and Entitled Bastard. Basically, MOBA games have a terrible reputation for having communities full of people on their absolute worst behavior.
- The only gaming communities considered worse than MOBA communities are some fighting communities. Aside from that, the fanbase of many a MOBA is a Wretched Hive, so much so that self-policing organizations existed for Dota and official bans and punishments for poor behaivor exist in many modern games.
- I'm Not Here to Make Friends: Given that some of these games show up in e-Sports and have official tournaments, you can definitely spot the people who are clearly not here to make friends, they're just here to win.
- Even in standard play, people have pointed out the guys having the most fun are the ones who aren't there to win and don't give a hoot about their statistics; they're just there to play games because they think it's fun. Sometimes it's more fun just to hear people throw tantrums
- Internet Tough Guy: Some people who take everything personally or can't cope with losing.
- Item Crafting: Introduced in DotA: Allstars. Everything is sold in the shop, but high-tier items are built out of mid-tier items, which themselves might be built out of low-tier items.
- What this amounts to is that lower-tier items make certain higher-tier items less expensive to buy, and higher-tier items replace certain lower-tier items, freeing up some of your finite number of inventory slots; a system that allows you to buy a huge, powerful item without having to suffer through an abnormally long period of having no item whatsoever and being a correspondingly less effective player.
- I Thought It Meant: Prior to the naming of this genre, it was a common sight to see people refer to these as Tower Defense games.
- It's Up to You: It's not. Nobody can win a game single-handedly if he is the only decent player on the team.
- Well, actually, when the MOBA is more like DotA, some characters, given enough time to get the money for their items, actually CAN win the game single-handedly, however it is very hard and doesn't often happen.
- Level Grinding: 'Laning' and 'Jungling' are the prime sources of Experience Points for essential skills and gold for key items, even with the much larger individual bounties for hero kills.
- Limit Break: the ultimate spell which is more powerful and unique than any other spells, and it can be afforded by reaching a certain level.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: DotA has 112 as version 6.76, League of Legends recently hit 110 and is still going with no indication of ever stopping, although it has slowed by a bit (one champion every 3 weeks, rather than every 2).
- When a MOBA goes on enough, they get this. This is in fact one of the draws of the genre - unlike other genres with this trope, you can actually log on and see more than five characters being used.
- This is arguably one of the main reasons poor Demigod failed so badly- it launched with eight characters. Eight. The developers patched in 2 more after launch, but it was too little, too late.
- One-Man Army: Varies depending on the skills and stats of each Hero Unit as well as the flow of the game. Certainly the average playable character is this compared to the average (unseen) denizen of the gameworld but compared to other playables a character may only become a One Man Army if his/her/its leveling and farming is successful.
- Pick Up Group
- Play the Game, Skip the Story: Being a multiplayer game; whenever a game attempts to have a plot, it's ignored.
- Serious Business: This is par for the course in any PvP game, but practically a genre trait in MOBA games.
- The Shepherd: Some people genuinely do want to help newbies get better, and will give them advice and encouragement.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Most of the jerks on these games really don't have the skills to back up their Trash Talk...
- The Social Darwinist: ESPECIALLY prevalent in the various playerbases of these games.
- Suffers Newbies Poorly: Some people who treat you like crap when you're starting might be perfectly reasonable if you play them after getting better. And then there are...others.
- "Stop Having Fun" Guys: This too, though it's more endemic in "pro" environments like DotA or Heroes of Newerth. Course, if you manage to play any MOBA game and not run into these guys, then you are Born Lucky. The very conventions of the genre tend to encourage this behavior as any deaths will make the opposing team stronger ('feeding') and experimenting or fooling around can be lethal. This is why most newbies are encouraged to start with bot games when trying something unconventional.
- League of Legends and Dota 2 are actually taking measure to avert this through systems to punish Jerk Ass players. League of Legends has a system called the "Tribunal" where players vote whether or not a player should be punished, and Dota 2 is adding a system to temporarily remove players' abilities to chat or voice-chat if they can't stop trash-talking. Both were incredibly Genre Savvy.
- One person stated that "MOBA-types aren't the game for me - I like to play games to have fun. If you're having fun and are playing stuff like DotA or LoL, you're apparently doing it wrong."
- They Changed It, Now It Sucks: These games tend to be patched often, leading to this reaction in fans often.
- They Copied It, So It Sucks: A strange inversion - it's not so much "They Copied DotA so they suck", moreso "They did NOT copy DotA, so they suck."
- Tier Induced Scrappy: Because of the team-based aspect of these games, this mostly happens with low-tier characters. It's not unknown for people to Rage Quit because somebody on their team chose a character perceived as being underpowered. Likewise, in DotA, which doesn't allow both sides to deploy the same hero, people might rage-quit when they saw that the other team had managed to nab the latest Game Breaker.
- Developers of games are constantly trying to avert this trope so people actually will try to win with their favorites, not just picking a hero declared "OP"
- Total Party Kill
- Ungrateful Bastard: LOTS.
- Unstable Equilibrium: Kills grant gold and experience to the victor, making that side more powerful while the other side just lost a player, making them weaker until they respawn, which facilitates the winning side in getting more kills on the losing side. Matches which are supposed to take around 45 minutes can devolve into Curb Stomp Battles in the first five.
- This leads to "feeding", where players on the losing side join the lopsided fight and get killed before they can accomplish anything, instead of helping their side, they just gave more gold and experience to the other side.
- Some games like LoL would penalize players who got killed by taking gold away, making the equilibrium even more unstable. Few complained when they removed it.
- Unstoppable Rage: The playerbase for just about every one of these games.
- Weak Turret Gun: Double Subverted. Early-mid game towers are very dangerous and can kill heroes in only a few hits, but they don't scale according to hero levels, so past a certain point towers stop being a formidable threat.
- However, played entirely straight and justified gameplay wise with some heroes who may be able to summon turret guns.